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Blood Count by Reggie Nadelson

Reggie Nadelson may be one of the most underrated crime novelists at work today. Nadelson, who lives in New York and London, brings a grim reality to her novels as her main character fights for justice in an unjust world. If you have not read Nadelson and you love mysteries, Blood Count is a good one to start with, but I guarantee you’ll scurry to the nearest library to check out previous books in her Artie Cohen series.

Blood Count is set in mid-December, 2008. Barack Obama has just been elected and all New York is ecstatic, especially Harlem. On a freezing night a few weeks later, detective Artie Cohen gets a late call from his ex-girlfriend, Lily Hanes, begging for his help.

Lily has been living at the Louis Armstrong Apartments, one of Harlem’s great buildings, while working on Obama’s campaign; now her Russian neighbor, Marianna Simonova, has died and Lily fears she’s at fault and needs Artie’s Russian connections. Over a weekend when theh city is locked in by snow and cold, with the financial markets tanking, one person after another at the Armstrong dies. Artie, out of his element, a white detective in a black world, is drawn inexorably into the realm of Sugar Hill and the Armstrong, where almost everybody except for the real estate developers seems locked in the past.

Working to solve the murders, Artie tries desperately to win Lily back. Blood Count is a murder mystery, a love story, and a tale about New York, race, real estate, money, and music, with an ending one could never predict.

In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly said, “Nadelson’s ninth mystery featuring Artie Cohen shows her at the top of her game. Nadelson has few peers at incorporating a strong whodunit plot into a contemporary police inquiry, but her real strength is Cohen himself, a tortured but sympathetic soul whose close relationships are never straightforward.”

Indeed, when a publisher rep first introduced me to Nadelson, it was Cohen I fell in love with. He is tough, philosophical, smart, tortured, and a straight shooter who doesn’t have much time for those who aren’t. He is the glue that holds the plot together and keeps moving in compellingly forward. Artie first appeared in 1995 and has consistently grown stronger with every novel.

I have learned a great deal about the Russian subculture in New York City through Nadelson’s Cohen mysteries and have been fascinated by it. Yes, it’s fiction, but Nadelson stirs a big does of reality into her plots.

You can’t go wrong with this novel.



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